Despite a reunification deadline of July 26th, the government has failed to reunite 559 children with their families after they were separated at the border, according to a recent court filing from the Trump Administration. Susan Church, an immigration lawyer at Demissie and Church, and Jeff Goldman, an attorney at Jeff Goldman Immigration, joined Boston Public Radio Friday to discuss just some examples of the extreme conditions these children have faced while being held in detention centers and shelters.
Before being sent to a shelter, the children are held in a customs and border protection holding cell for up to five days, said Church. According to one of her clients, the conditions of these holding cells were abysmal. Church told Boston Public Radio that her client’s daughter was told, “if she didn’t behave, she would never see her mother again.”
“One of my clients described [the holding cell] as over 50 kids in a room, in a 12-by -2 room. There wasn’t even room to sit down," Church said. "The only fresh air they would get in is when the officers would open the door to yell at them to shut up, or be quiet, or they called them donkeys or other names."
The shelters children are put in after the holding cells are not much better, says Church. “One little girl got woken up every morning by them pulling her ponytail,” she said.
Church believes that the only way people can rationalize treating children like this is by dehumanizing them. “I personally think at this point in time — this is a much deeper psychological issue — they need to view these people as the lowest of the low, as trash, and to treat them as inhumanely as possible in order to justify what they are doing to them,” she said.
For Goldman, the problem is not only that the government failed at reunifying the children, but that President Trump just doesn’t seem to care. “The government is passing the buck at every moment. They are ignoring the situation," he said. "We have a president who would rather play golf than to really help to find the parents and the children and reunite them."